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Nelson Jordan and Carrie Walker Spencer Archive by Wyatt Houston Day

Photograph Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries

By Wyatt Houston Day

     I wanted to make sure our readers were aware of this significant collection of the Nelson and Jordan family papers as researched by Wyatt Houston Day (text below) and presented by Swann Auction Galleries, in the 20th annual Printed and Manuscript African Americana auction. Many items in the auction are important, but this particular lot underscores my love of primary sources as history is always more interesting, and accurate, when told by the people who lived it.  --Best, Pat

Large family archive of ex-slaves Nelson Jordan and Carrie Walker Spencer. Letters, documents, diplomas, photographs, postcards, scrapbooks and ephemera, including the Reverend Nelson Ruben Jordan's frock coat and top-hat, large family bible, and Walker Jordan's WWI narrative of service. should be seen. Virginia and up, circa 1890-1950's

an exceptional archive of an african american family from farmville virginia. Spanning roughly 150 years, it includes tintype photographs of the patriarch and matriarch of the family, Baptist minister Nelson W. Jordan (1842-1922) and Catherine "Carrie" Spencer Jordan (1862-1945). Nelson served in Company D of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteers. After the war he was ordained and pastored in four rural churches. Nelson and Carrie were married in 1879, and had 10 children, nine of whom survived. Included is the enormous family Bible, recording the births and deaths of the Jordan family. They had five daughters: Julia, Delphie Mozella ("Aunt Zell"), Anna Viola, Elsie May and Elizabeth Hayes and four sons: Nelson R., Walker Harrison, Arthur Edward and Joseph Delaware, all of whom distinguished themselves in education, the church, and military service. The archive is rich in photography, beginning with photographs of Nelson W. Jordan and Carrie Spencer Jordan, ex-slaves. There are numerous photographs of all of the children and their children. Julia (1881-1942) married Henry Womack, and there is a rich correspondence from Henry to Julia. Delphie Mozella married Reverend Peter Price and built and maintained an educational summer camp for children, "Camp Winona." Anna Viola married Otis Turner; they had a daughter Ruth whose wonderful high school and college scrap books include a great deal of music related ephemera. Nelson R. ("little Rev") married Olga, and like his father became a minister. Walker Harrison served in WWI and wrote an exceptional account of race in the service, titled "With Old 'Eph' in the Army, a Simple Treatise on the Human side of the Colored Soldier" (Baltimore, 1919). Arthur Edward married and had children, as did Elsie May and Elizabeth Hayes. The accomplishments of the Jordan family are recorded visually as well as in documents, including an early Howard University diploma. Present too is Nelson R. ("Little Rev") Jordan's "Red Line Bible," with his copious notes for sermons interspersed throughout. This archive represents a partial record of a family that excelled through the limited avenues that were open to African Americans following Reconstruction and the onset of the Jim Crow era. Unlike so many black families, the Jordans for the most part did not become swept up in the Great Migration, and instead remained in Virginia. Estimate $6,000 - 9,000  Sale 2408 Lot 260

Swann Auction Galleries

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